Laurentian Bank's review of problematic loans to conclude in Q2

by Ephraim Vecina on 05 Mar 2018

Laurentian Bank expects to complete its review of problematic mortgages sold to an unnamed lender by the fiscal second quarter, and will fix or repurchase any remaining mortgages that fail to meet the proper criteria.

The Montreal-based lender — which said late last year it discovered mortgages that did not meet documentation and eligibility requirements — is implementing enhanced processes to avoid similar problems going forward, its chief executive said.

“We are increasing governance across the board,” Laurentian’s chief executive Francois Desjardins said in a conference call discussing the bank’s fiscal first-quarter results on Wednesday (February 28).

“So that all new business is subject to enhanced quality control. So we will be paying more attention to the business overall, as loans renew and new business comes in,” he added, as quoted by The Canadian Press.

These stricter controls come after Laurentian said in December that an audit found mortgages sold to an unnamed third-party purchaser that did not meet documentation and eligibility requirements, and would need to repurchase as much as $304 million in mortgages. In January, Laurentian upwardly revised that amount to $392 million and said it had repurchased $180 million in loans, with another $88 million expected by the end of the fiscal second quarter.

Desjardins said in December that the issues largely involved loans that were misflagged and it found no evidence of wilful wrongdoing. He also said a smaller percentage of the problematic mortgages involved a failure to obtain or properly store documentation such as proof of income needed to adjudicate the loan, and to a “lesser extent” Laurentian found “client misrepresentation” which involved embellishing their assets or revenue.

Read more: Canadians not keen on shopping around for mortgage options – study

Laurentian’s discussion of enhanced quality control processes came days after S&P Global Ratings said in a report that it is expecting more evidence of Canadian residential mortgage fraud. The ratings agency said high home prices and rising household debt in Canada “increase incentives to fraudulent activity, such as overstating the borrower’s income in order to meet a lender’s qualifying criteria.” S&P said another factor is the growing proportion of mortgages originated via brokers, which do not bear credit risk in the same way as lenders.

Laurentian Bank said in its financial update Wednesday that it has already identified and purchased $268 million in ineligible mortgage loans and is conducting a review of approximately 1,900 branch-underwritten mortgages sold to the third party purchaser, fixing or repurchasing any loans as needed.

Laurentian also said it agreed with the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation, another third-party purchaser of loans from the bank, that it did not have to perform a full review of mortgages sold to CMHC securitization programs and is working with Canada's federal housing agency to ensure solid controls are in place going forward.

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